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France on a shoestring: new low-cost long-distance train service launched

British tourists visiting France on a tight budget will now have the option to keep travel costs to a minimum thanks to a new no-frills rail service.

In a bid to compete with budget airlines and cars, French national rail operator SNCF has launched a new low-cost long-distance service to passengers. Tickets start from €10 (£8.70), which is a significant reduction in ticket prices compared with the normal TGV train.

There are 400,000 tickets available. After the €10 starting price, fares rise to €25 and can reach a maximum of €85, depending on demand. Services will connect Paris to Lyon, Marseille and Montpellier, with trains departing from Marne-la-Vallée, which is almost 20 miles east of central Paris.

This mimics strategies employed by no-frills airlines such as Ryanair and easyJet, which also use airports located away from city centres.The new services will use the same trains as the TGV, meaning that the journey from Paris to Marseille – which is on the south coast – will take three hours and 15 minutes.

Like budget airlines, customers will be liable to pay extra charges for various reasons: transporting a pet costs €30, taking a second piece of luggage will incur a €5 charge and use of a power point costs €2. Space will also be tighter and there will be no cafés, bars or a first class section.

While British visitors travelling on a budget may find the new service a convenient way to keep overall holiday costs down, it was designed mostly for the benefit of people living on the outskirts of Paris, who are more likely to drive long distances. If you are thinking about jetting off abroad this year, remember to take out a travel insurance policy before you go, as this can help cover certain costs in the event of an emergency.

Date Created: 22 February 2013

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